The only difference this time around is the way in which Zwick fails. Normally he deals in Weighty Progressive Subjects, which all the Oscar hypers proclaim Academy catnip, but the end result film is always so bland even the old-time voters don't bite. This time he took a (by studio standards) sexy/light premise, and managed to bungle that as well. You could call this a change of pace.
I recall William Goldman's article about working on The Ghost and the Darkness and working with Michael Douglas, whom he calls a fantastic producer, one of the finest in the industry. But when working with him simultaneously as actor AND producer, the man could not separate integrity from ego and insisted upon a lengthy monologue to bring us into his characters' pain.
Clearly for Edward Zwick, it is not about money. He's not Bruckheimer by any means. It is about approval. And approval is something that can only exist when projected from others, so that requires commerce to go hand in hand with prestige. The result is like mixing vanilla ice cream with vanilla ice cream. I just stay away from his movies. On the whole, I don't have a problem with ten nominated pictures because it is worth more to me to see something of modest scope and major artistry boosted (A Serious Man) than to see something populist wrongly touted (The Blind Side). Zwick will get his nomination at long last but it will be made out of bronze.
(Mister Tee @ Oct. 27 2010,9:33)
Sabin, your story illustrates the down side of both the studio system and the auteur theory. Occasionally a bland director can latch onto a great script and stay far enough out of the way to make a memorable film (Madden with Shakespeare in Love a prime example). But far more often the mediocre director will "fix" the script so it fits his bland world-view, reducing potentially interesting projects to the usual product.
I had the misfortune of collaborating on a project with a woman of the industry earlier this year. It fell through despite my intentions, though by the end of the collaboration I wanted to run away screaming. The bane of all Hollywood projects must be someone spitballing an idea at another, and that party replying "That's interesting." Anything that forces someone to rethink the project is "interesting".
Unlike in other countries, there is very little trace of singular vision in American cinema, it would seem. There is too much group-think. Didn't Pauline Kael refute the auteur theory, citing the relative indifference of John Ford as proof? Regardless of how many on-set decisions are collaborative, the auteur theory is powerfully real through the on-set decision-making processes of creatives. Likewise, there is an anti-auteur theory behind the off-AND-onset decision-making processes of functionaries, AND functionaries dressed as creatives. Like Edward Zwick. An Edward Zwick may not succeed in having a singular filmic identity unlike any other filmmaker, but because of his milquetoast sensibilities he does succeed in failing to have a singular filmic identity unlike any other filmmaker.
Edited By Sabin on 1288300588